Crossover Fan Fiction ❯ Spanish Rhapsody ❯ Heart of Glass ( Chapter 4 )

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FOUR: Heart of Glass


I awoke in Spain, once more. I’d just drifted off to sleep and now I was back here. I’d had normal sleep for the past two nights, but here I am on the third. My bedding is musty and needs a wash, preferably with some bleach to kill the fungus that was growing in it. The girls were snoring away, even the little ones snored. It was cute snoring, because they’re still young teenage girls, but they were snoring just the same. The LT had her own room, next door to our dorm. So did the Sergeant Major, Rio-sempai, princess in waiting. She was charming, kind of a tomboy, but with girlish sympathies and a tendency to secretly worry after the girls she commanded. Today was meant to be a hike up the mountain to visit several scouting posts, old bunkers from a previous war. War, war never changes. Who knew the post-apocalypse would be so peaceful?

Maybe tomorrow I can get a visit to town and check over my order for precision glass and see if the lenses would work for the tank aiming system. Much like a Japanese car, if one part of the sensory system was missing, the entire thing refused to boot up or run. It was aggravating to design something that can’t actually survive any damage in combat, but that is what the tank engineers did. Rebuilding it was something to do that used my considerable intellect. I am not an airhead in this body. I’m the smartest person in this world, literally. And I’ve been saddled with Kanata, one of the dumbest. She’s cute, and will find it easy to get a husband when she’s old enough, but not bright and lacks sufficient awareness of her surroundings to avoid self-harm. She needs a lot of looking after. Rio-sempai is doing a fair bit of that, possibly reminding her of someone from her troubled past.

“Line up!” called out Rio-sempai. We lined up with our heavy haversacks. They were stuffed with camping gear, heavy military cotton clothes, a sleeping bag, tarp, cooking gear, rations, ammunition, and medical kit. It was seriously all you needed for a few days on patrol, but just barely. The weather was clear and perfect.

“You are to proceed to Point Bravo up the mountain, and verify status on observation site. You are to proceed on foot and return within two days. Right face! Forward March!” she ordered. We marched. It was a slog within a few minutes. We were overloaded, and none of us were in shape. We’re girls. We were sent here to get out of the way of the real soldiers. A place to keep us safe.

We proceeded out of town and up the mountain, leaving the noise of the town with its vehicles and furnaces and chattering wives and barking dogs, all behind into the stillness of the mountain. The bees buzzed around flowers. A chattering squirrel barked from a tree, then skittered out of sight. There was churned earth under that tree, the sign of local wild pig rooting for mushrooms or insects, probably both. It is beautiful up here. The view goes for dozens of miles, out over the fields tilled by tractors, neat rows of corn and wheat and beans. Clouds scudded on the distant horizon, over the mountains.

I drank some water after the first twenty minutes, reminding the girls to do likewise. We rested briefly then went onwards. We had a long way to go. We climbed, we hiked, we stopped to look at trees, to turn around and take in the view of the plains in the distance, slightly different from earlier, revealing more as we climbed.

We took a break near lunchtime to soak our aching feet in a cold mountain stream, burbling with crystal clear water that was probably still full of cholera. There is no clean stream water anywhere on Earth. There just isn’t. Drink that without boiling and you’ll be suffering from dysentery for weeks. For all that, the water was cold enough to drive away all the swelling and gain squeals from both girls. We rested by the stream a short time and returned to our packs on the embankment, finding our gear spread around and rations missing, chunks of wax paper and cardboard half chewed and spat around like something had eaten it.

“The pig! It ate our food!” complained Kureha. This was certainly the case. I sighed, noting a sour apple tree, probably crab apples not worth eating.

“We’ll have to continue our journey. Let’s find this observation post, finish the mission, and return to base,” I ordered. I’m a corporal, so I’m technically in charge, as long as I pretend I don’t see Rio-sempai peering out from behind that tree over there. She’s such a nice girl.

“Do you see a flash?” asked Kanata. Kureha peered where she pointed. I looked to, noting it. A reflection.

“I see it. Let’s march. We should be there soon,” I promised. It was actually further away than it looked, with a gully between us and the site, but we eventually maneuvered there and found the doorway, and all the marks written on it, scratched in using rocks. Kanata marked our names there, and the date. I let her. This was some kind of tradition here. I noted Rio’s name there with two others, one our house mother. It’s sweet.

The view, on the other hand, was awful. The sun was descending over a massive graveyard of burnt cities, discarded tanks and broken buildings. A serious war had been fought over that place, and it seems obvious that most of those involved had died. I think that’s where Filicia was wounded, where her tank died and her friends burned to death. Horrible, that war, and not long ago, not enough to forget.

We stared, wordlessly taking in the devastation in silence, giving the dead their due courtesy. The night fell, but the stars came out, bright as can be. I found that yes, I do have my flashlight, so I showed the girls how to setup their own on our pack straps and then we proceeded back, stomping uncertainly, but without incident, back to our fort. It was less time than you’d think before the lights of town appeared, guiding our way, and we turned on our flashlights once we lost our nightvision from those lights. The rifles were heavy, but so was the pack and we found there were sweets when we got back. I indulged like the others and then bathed in our furo before I turned in. Rio was kind enough to join us there, not commenting on her oversight.

The next morning, after sleeping in nearly to noon, I was allowed to borrow the staff car based on a Volkswagen Beetle, and drove with Kanata over to the glass factory to pickup my special order. I returned to the hangar and tried them, one after another. None of them were any good, all of them out of spec for calibration needs. It wouldn’t boot up. I sighed, discussing it with Filicia.

The day after that I borrowed the car again and returned to the factory to explain about the problem.

“So, why not use sound? That original glass is C sharp. Shouldn’t the replacement lens also ring at the same pitch?” Kanata asked. From the mouths of idiots… but it might work? That’s not how lenses work, but maybe we’ll get lucky. Another set of lens casting and grinding until we had a box full of lenses that rang at C sharp. I tried them in the tank and found the third one was close enough to calibrate, and the targeting system computer booted up for the first time since the war. I was expecting to see Pip Boy OS there, but no such luck. It did go to the desktop view, which gave me a live camera and targeting reticle, with range finder. When I moved the turret, it read off the distance automatically and offered ranging calculations based on shell loaded. Fascinating, and fast enough to actually be useful in combat.

That night I slept well, with satisfaction and woke to my brother chatting with his red-headed Greek warrior wife. And she was pregnant. I have to say that I never would have predicted my chuuni brother would have such a complicated life before he finished high school. Who knew that the chuuni stuff was the calm part of his life?